Mental Illness in Youth and Teens

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  • Abby Kirchmeier

Mental Illness in Youth and Teens

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

With 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness diagnosed by age 14 and 75% by age 24, a higher percentage of youth and teens suffer from mental illness compared to the general population. In fact, 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 has a serious mental illness that substantially interferes with everyday activities. However, among the general American adult population, this rate significantly decreases to about 1 in 25.


Common mental health disorders among youth and teens include those related to anxiety, depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity, and eating.


Anxiety, the most common mental disorder among adolescents, occurs in approximately 32% of teens. This includes generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias.


Depression – depressive disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder — occurs in approximately 13% of 12-17-year-olds.


Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD) is characterized by a persistent inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily activities. This disorder occurs in approximately 9% of adolescents ages 13-18. However, according to the CDC, this proportion increases to about 11% when including all children ages 4-17.


Eating Disorders — such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder — is characterized by extreme and abnormal eating behaviors, such as insufficient or excessive eating. These disorders occur in almost 3% of American teenagers.



Within the general American population, 11.8% live with two or more mental disorders. However, this rate significantly increases among the adolescent population. Having another disorder is most common in children with depression. About 3 in 4 children ages 3-17 with depression also have an anxiety disorder, and 1 in 2 have behavioral problems.


These high rates of depression and suicide among adolescents is unfortunately accompanied by high rates of self-harm and suicide attempts. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in youth – compared to the 10th among the general American population. 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness. According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, 7.4% of teens in high school reported that at least one suicide attempt in the past year. Female students attempted almost twice as often as male students (9.3% vs. 5.1%). Black students reported the highest rate of attempt (9.8%) with white students at 6.1%.


Recent studies show that every year, youth are struggling with increased rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide. In 2016 12% of youth experience depression; in 2011, that rate was 8%. What was 5% of youth experiencing anxiety in 2003, soon became 8% in 2007 and 9% by 2011.


According to the University of Michigan study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2016, nearly half of all youth are not receiving proper treatment for their diagnosable condition. “Untreated mental health disorders can have a debilitating impact on children’s healthful growth and throughout their transition to adulthood,” says author Daniel Whitney, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow with Michigan Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “This could lead to increased, preventable risk for these and other health conditions becoming worse later in life.”


We at AYANA hope that our service can help the youth who are struggling with mental health at a greater rate than the general population. We are convenient, affordable, and quality service for all communities. As we launch this summer, we hope that you will join us on our journey to provide such an impactful service to those in need.


#AYANA #AYANATherapy #MentalHealth #MentalIllness #Youth #Teens #Depression #Anxiety #ADD #ADHD #EatingDisorders

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